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Garden

Take it from the experts

Gardeners and chefs from some grand hotels share tips for gardening.

By SUSAN R. POLLACK
Published May 19, 2007


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From formal beds to kitchen gardens, here are some tips from experts at the National Trust Historic Hotels of America that may come in handy as you continue working in your garden.

Start with the soil. Paula Vecchio, horticulturist at the Sagamore at Bolton Landing, N.Y., swears by the adage, "Never put a $5 plant in a 50-cent hole." She recommends fertilizing soil with compost, a mix of decayed organic matter.

Groundskeepers Rudy Horst and Matthew Partain of the Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., suggest using an auger to dig holes. "It tills as it drills, " they say of the tool that lets gardeners dig in an upright position - saving backs and knees - while mixing the soil in the hole.

Size doesn't matter. Don't fret if you don't have a wide-open space. Container gardens and urban herb gardens are a great way to get color and life in a small space.

Oak Room chef Jeremy Langemann, who plants culinary herbs and vegetables on the rooftop of Boston's Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel, suggests planting radishes with carrots to break up the soil and allow for easy picking. Leave beets in the dirt when picking the greens for salads and the greens will continually grow back.

Horticulturist Annie Zipkin and her husband, Elliot Kalmus, tend balcony gardens at Hotel Monteleone and the Bienville House Hotel in New Orleans. They advise caring for plants on the same day each week and giving container plants the same amount of water at the same time of day.

Color karma. Sara Henderson, veteran gardener at La Playa Hotel in Carmel, Calif., offers a color lesson. Cool colors - blue to purple shades - create distance. Bright colors, from yellow to red, pull a scene forward.

Because bright sun fades bright color, use vibrant colors in bright sunlight. Light colors show up better in areas with low light intensity. Monochromatic color schemes work well in small areas, while complex color combinations work in large areas.

Trade secrets. Laurel McKown stores water in a rusted bucket at the Hotel Boulderado in Boulder, Colo., a trick she discovered by accident. She suspects the iron in her "magic" water, used once a week, gives potted flowers a boost of deep, rich color.

It's not just how much you water, but when, suggests Sara Radman, award-winning gardener at the St. Paul Hotel in St. Paul, Minn. Watering in the morning before the sun gets too intense will help prevent fungal outbreaks and leaf burn spots, she says.

Leaves indicate whether you're over- or underwatering, says Cindy Muro, greenhouse manager at Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, N.Y. In general, a plant that's too dry will wilt and have yellow leaves, along with soil that's dry to the touch.

A plant that's overwatered will drop many leaves quickly, often while they're still green.

Experiment. Jack Woodland, landscape director at the American Club in Kohler, Wis., suggests photographing your garden. Photos not only provide a visual record but can point up planting deficiencies. Be sure to use the same angle and location each time.

[Last modified May 18, 2007, 11:44:05]


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